In this world of internet searches, marketing scams, and identity theft, there are many types of people trying to find out information about you. Some of it may be beneficial, some not. Before you give out your personal information, including information about your medical history and your ostomy, ask yourself a few questions. “How will I benefit from this person having certain information? How will the person asking the questions benefit from my answers?”
Thinking back to those critical days of adjustment just after your ostomy surgery, you may only have wanted people around you that you trusted and loved. At that time, you may have needed the support of a spouse, a friend or your children. In order for those people to support you, they needed to know about your ostomy surgery. By sharing this information you were helped through what for some was a very difficult time. Once you were home, friends and neighbors started to call and then to visit when you felt up to it. The question arose as to “What do I tell them about my surgery?” Probably, you thought about each person and his or her relationship with you—the closeness you felt for that person and his or her relationship with you—and maybe, the sincerity of that person’s concern for you.
After considering these factors, you may have made a decision to tell the person about your ostomy. Based upon the reaction to your story, you made another decision—whether to tell about your ostomy to those who inquired about your health.
As your health progressed and you began to return to work, the question arose again. “Should I tell my employer about my ostomy?” Here again a couple of questions needed to be asked. “Do I need support from my employer because of my ostomy? How does my employer knowing about my situation help me?” This becomes situational. For example, if I work an assembly line and must take prescheduled breaks, and I’m still adjusting to emptying my pouch, I may or may not need a different schedule for breaks than those enforced. My employer needs to know that I’m not just breaking the rules, but have a real need.
Whether to tell someone you have an ostomy becomes a matter of who has a right to know, and how you will benefit from their knowing. To tell someone you have an ostomy becomes clearer when the benefits are weighed. Simply explain that you had some surgery for whatever reason you had your surgery, and it necessitated having an alternate route made for emptying either your bowels or bladder. By having had this surgery you were given the chance to increase the length and quality of your life. Share with the person whom you have decided has a right to know about your surgery, using pamphlets and brochures available from the United Ostomy Association and other sources. Educate those persons you believe have a vested interest in your well being.